Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Bangalore--The old vs the new

I had a chance to see Bangalore's new airport when i flew from it on 29th a week after its inauguration. Here is a small analysis of the airport building..

Coming to think of it i was pretty amazed by the look and feel of the new airport. Terminal is well built .Arrivals and departures neatly segregated. You enter through a huge set of glass doors and straightaway enter into the check in center. Here there are about 50 counters and so the human traffic congestion is not much. After check in you climb the escalator and enter into the first floor.

On the first floor is the security check area..pretty neat and decent . It is after this area i feel that the problems start. Beyond the security check center is the departure holding area.This area has been horribly used i feel. More than half of the floor area in this part has been wasted with shops selling books, clothes, and all other kinds of stuff at soaring unreasonable prices.

And because of this the seating area has suffered. There are just not enough chairs for people to sit. I could see some people standing and some others sitting on the floor. I feel they can do away with some of these glamorous shops and provide more seating area. As a regular traveller for me having a good place to sit is more important than shopping at the airport. I hope the authorities look into this matter at the earliest.I also feel that catering facilities in the departure section are just not enough.

After that was pretty good. My flight's departure was announced on time. I climbed down the stairs and boarded the bus ( unluckily no aerobridge ) and boarded my flight which also took off on time.

When i came back to Bangalore from Mumbai two days later again i passed through this place. This time there were absolutely no problems. The flight landed on time. I went through the baggage cabin section on the ground floor which is a real relief from the old airport. Lots of conveyor belts to ensure that the baggage retrieval is was pretty smooth i was able to retrieve my baggage in abt 15 mins. Came out to the arrivals section.

Again i was a very disappointed to see that there is no seating facility for the people who have come to receive passengers outside the terminal building. I think they should definitely think of building a small waiting room to receive passengers.

Outside the airport facilities are also very good. you get taxis to wherever you want in Bangalore. But i took the Vayu Vajra Volvo Bus Service. Its very cheap and very comfortable. Better way to travel to the city if you know your destination that is..

Regarding capacity, I really doubt the confidence that the airport authorities are trying to instill. I really have my doubts whether the exiting puny terminal building will be able to handle the increasing air traffic after say another 3 years as it is not very big. I think the current terminal will start to choke with passengers in another 3 years. BIAL should seriously look into this issue,.

As far the distance is concerned, i think too much hue and cry has been raised about this issue. I dont think its that far away people are talking as if the airport is on the other end of the earth. Even when the HAL airport was there it was a pain to travel from a place like Rajajinagar or vijaynagar to the old airport. It used to take 1.5 to 2 hours even then. Now you can reach Hebbal a locality in north Bangalore 28 km from the airport in little under 30 mins. The expressway is very good. Thus the problem is not about how to get to the airport, its about how to manage traffic in the city properly. How to reach Hebbal in the shortest possible time..If only traffic within the city were managed well, connectivity would not have been an issue.....Wishful Thinking !!

Another serious point of concern is how the surroundings of the airport would look like ten years from now. Yelehanka the northern extremity of Bangalore is a 15 min drive from here. Thus the general trend of urbanization would start approaching the airport. The Government should realize this immediately and must put a ban on real estate development at least for 10 km radius around devanahalli. Otherwise by 2015 BIAl will be another HAL disaster with slums, shopping centres and apartments mushrooming all around it thus clogging the infrastructure. Look at the airports in foreign countries they are ALL OUTSIDE the city in semi urban or mostly rural areas.

As far as i am considered, this swanky new airport is a real relief from the fish market like atmosphere of HAL airport and i feel it is one of the better airports in India ( though i havent seen the new Hyderabad airport yet).
But it definitely cannot be called a world class international airport and it just cannot compete with any international hubs like Hong Kong, Singapore ,London etc...
All in all you can say after waiting for such a long time,it is a disappointment BIAL could have delivered much better.